Amoeblog

The late, great Cab Calloway on his 100th birthday,

Posted by Whitmore, December 29, 2007 01:21pm | Post a Comment

The legendary saint Cab Calloway, brought into existence on Christmas, was never off the cob, he was the heppest cat, the gasser on the scene, and scribe to the Dictionary of Hepology, not just any book of lingo like some hincty gate-mouth might cop to, emphatically no! This man’s a poet! Hey, Calloway was solid, a ready cat with serious chops, never capped, I mean never capped. Cabell Calloway III licks hit all the armstrongs every time with those "hi-de-hi's," and "ho-de ho's, singing in that blip beat key, swinging overcoats growling some hip and hot gammin’ grooves. Be it a gutbucket blues, the ready racket on the main kick or just some clambake where he’s got this cat riffing on the doghouse - hitting all the basso notes, cool Gabriel wigging on a boogie-woogie and some Jack on skins mugging heavy, Cab always crept out like the shadow, stylish threads togged to the bricks, walking hand made, custom to the thread mezz ground grippers … on each arm, a fine righteous queen he dug the last black, each dicty dutchess fresh off the dreamers and lily whites. 

At one point Cab was collaring 200 g’s a year, that’s one foxy stack of fins. Platter gravy coming on like a test pilot, cuts like "Minnie the Moocher", “Reefer Man” and "St. James Infirmary Blues" were everywhere man, chicks breakin’ it up, dropping a nickel or a dime note just to latch onto the hippest cat who could send the coolest riff riding high. Cab the man was the man; kids come again to the Cotton Club in the Apple, rug cutters Trucking, Pecking, or bugging to the Susie-Q, never no fraughty issue here. That’s the Bible baby! Cab and the cats digging a mess, one riff after another, and every hot killer jam taking off, that combo was always bustin’ conk, breaking up the joint like gangbusters. Zazu-zazu-zazu-zay! No room here for icky squares who can't collar the jive. The jitterbuggers at the Cotton Club always had a hummer of a ball. Yeah! Whipped up! Jumpin’ and mitt pounding till the chimes say its way past early bright. Ow!

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Karlheinz Stockhausen 1928 - 2007

Posted by Whitmore, December 10, 2007 10:55am | Post a Comment


Karlheinz Stockhausen
has died at the age of 79 at his home in Kuerten-Kettenberg, Germany. Regarded as one of the greatest musical visionaries of the 20th-century, he earned a great deal of respect and admiration from a cult following for his original and influential compositions, as well as for his authorship of new musical systems. But he’ll mostly be remembered as being one of the pivotal voices in the development of electronic music following World War Two. Though esteemed by many, he also earned a great amount of scorn from those who found his work to be “monotonous” or “unnecessary, useless and uninteresting”. He didn’t help his cause with his own awe-inspiring megalomania and eccentricities.

But ultimately he was a man who influenced practically everyone from the Beatles (he’s pictured on the Sgt. Pepper album cover,) to the Kraut rock sounds of Can (Holger Czukay and Irmin Schmidt studied with him), to the psychedelic sounds of early Pink Floyd, to the unconventional rock worlds of Frank Zappa, Brian Eno, Sonic Youth, Coil and Björk to the world of jazz and beyond with the likes of Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Anthony Braxton Herbie Hancock, Evan Parker, and to the newer breed of avant garde composers like Cornelius Cardew and Hugh Davies. Stockhausen is also generally regarded as one of the originators of techno, given his experimentation with electronics which included tape, oscillators and Ondes Martenot back in the fifties and his use of beats in the 1970’s.

More recently, he made news for his reaction to the attack on the World Trade Center. Not  known outside the world of modern-music he became instantly infamous for calling the attack “the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos.” Needless to say, his comments drew outrage. He later apologized, saying that his allegorical remarks had been misunderstood and taken out of context. And just to get the story right, here is his statement.

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the simpleton's guide to the great war, 1914-1918 ...

Posted by Whitmore, November 12, 2007 02:45pm | Post a Comment

Guillaume Apollinaire

Posted by Whitmore, November 11, 2007 10:05am | Post a Comment

This weekend marks the anniversary of the death of a personal hero of mine, poet Guillaume Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky, better known as Apollinaire, who died during the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. His greatest contribution to the 20th century, other than coining the term ‘surrealism’ and helping to publicize and define the cubist movement, was probably his poetry, influencing many of the avant-garde, dada and surrealist writers in post-Great War France, such as André Breton and Tristan Tzara.


Some of the best anecdotes about Apollinaire concern his occasionally dubious character. He was known for reviewing non-existent books and writing erotic / pornographic fantasies under pseudonyms. Re-inventing facts was a penchant of his, often ending in uncomfortable predicaments. In 1911, for example, he was detained for six days on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa.  When things looked a bit bleak, he pointed the finger at his trusted friend Pablo Picasso, implicating him in one of the biggest crimes of the era. Both were eventually exonerated, but the Mona Lisa wasn’t recovered until 1913, and after some eight forgeries had been sold! Nevertheless, the more adventurous Parisians were counted in Apollinaire’s circle of friends and colleagues. They were the who’s who of  Paris, artists like Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Marie Laurencin (his long time lover), Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp, writers Gertrude Stein, Alfred Jarry, Max Jacob, and composer Erik Satie.

After the start of the First World War, Apollinaire joined the French military, requesting front-line infantry duty. On March 17, 1916, while entrenched on the front near Champagne close to the Belgian frontier, he suffered a shell wound to the temple. The neurological consequences of such an injury are uncertain. But what is certain, according to people who knew him before and after, his personality and behavior altered dramatically. He became irritable, anxious and depressed, ending significant relationships, including breaking the engagement to his fiancé. Perhaps in part because of his war wounds, exposure to mustard gas, or any of the multiple surgeries he underwent, Apollinaire would become one of an estimated 100 million people worldwide who died from the great influenza pandemic, passing on November 9th in his apartment in Paris at 202 Boulevard Saint-Germain. Every couple of years or so I travel to Paris and I always make a point to stop by his gravesite in Père Lachaise, open a bottle of wine, snack on some bread and cheese, relax and give people directions to Chopin’s and Jim Morrison’s graves.

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Posted by Whitmore, November 5, 2007 08:58am | Post a Comment
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
gunpowder, treason and plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!
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